Tempany settling in as principal in Burlington

Jessica Robinson

This week was the start of a new school year in Burlington. It’s also a new career path for Autumn Tempany, who will be serving as the principal. Former principal Matt Davidson took on the position as superintendent for BHC School District No. 1.

Tempany mostly grew up in Montana. She was born in Bozeman. Shortly thereafter, her family moved back to their homestead on Heart Mountain in Wyoming where her father took over farming from his dad. Her paternal grandparents who owned the homestead were Mildon and Barbara Patterson.

Tempany’s maternal grandfather, George Tresler, was the architect who designed and built the original Cody museum along with many of the original city halls and schools throughout the state, including Burlington School. Her maternal grandma was Dorothy Tresler.

When Tempany was 5, her father decided to go back to school to get his master’s degree in electrical engineering, so the family moved back to Bozeman. Her father got a job at PG&E in California. The family spent a year there before moving to Butte where Tempany attended grades three through eight. The family then moved to Billings where she graduated from Skyview High School.

Tempany attended Montana State University-Bozeman for four years and obtained a bachelor’s in elementary education. She graduated in May of 2000 after doing her student teaching in Cody at the old Sunset School.

“I wanted to do my student teaching in Cody to live closer to my grandparents,” she said. “I didn’t really know where Burlington was until I got my first job here.”

She got her first teaching job in Burlington in August of that same year and taught there until 2010. Then her husband, William, got a job in Hawaii, so they moved with their four kids. Tempany taught while they lived there for a few years.

In 2013, Tempany heard that Burlington was hiring a MS/HS Instructional Facilitator. She got the job and the family moved back. After moving back, she started her master’s program in educational leadership at the University of Wyoming while teaching and graduated with a master’s in 2017.

Tempany’s husband has his own counseling practice out of Worland. The couple’s eldest daughter, Isobelle, graduated from Burlington in 2019 and their twins, Alora and Ahna, graduated in 2020. Their youngest son, Matt, will be in seventh grade this year. Tempany said all of their kids started preschool in Burlington and spent the majority of their school years here, minus the stint in Hawaii.

“I am excited and honored to be principal this year,” said Tempany. “Matt Davidson has been an outstanding example of educational leadership and although he’s nearby (being our district superintendent), he will be sorely missed.

“Burlington has really good school system with supportive families and respectful students; it’s easy to want be principal here,” Tempany continued. “The teaching staff is knowledgeable, collaborative, and they care about students. From the office secretaries, to the custodians, to our paraprofessionals, to members of the community, every person works together to put kids first; it’s a great environment.”

Tempany is looking forward to staring the school year in-person and having sports. She said she looks forward to welcoming their new staff and providing mentors and other supports to help them have a successful school year. New staff for Burlington includes Kim Robertson, who comes from Lovell, as the fourth grade teacher. Several Burlington alumni will also be on the staff including Eliza Stolk teaching preschool, Lisa Winters teaching sixth grade, and Maren Gotfredson transitioning into a part-time teacher role. Kirby Winland from Cowley will be teaching MS/HS physical sciences. New paraprofessionals include Desiree Crosby, Sage Whicker, Sabrina Philpott, and Delaney Neves.

Tempany was looking forward to their open house scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 24 where families could drop off supplies and meet new teachers.

Most of all, she was looking forward to the first day of school.

In settling in as principal, Tempany said, “I have been on a steep learning curve since last March, even though I didn’t officially begin as principal until July 1.”

Tempany has learned several random things with the job. She said the sprinklers require a lot of effort to keep them running effectively. “The upkeep on the grounds is more time intensive than I had ever considered,” she added.

She’s also learned there are a million things that go into being principal and most of them occur behind the scenes.

“Just when I think I’ve gone through my list of unread emails, my computer refreshes and I have more,” she said.

Tempany said she has been really impressed by the amount of time the teachers have spent planning and preparing this summer. She added that on any given day, there are two to three teachers in the building working.

“Our new teachers seem very dedicated as well,” she said. Among the things they’ve been doing are organizing, cleaning out cupboards and figuring out curriculum.

Tempany noted their custodians have been working all summer. They have moved furniture to clean carpets, make repairs, paint and refinish floors. “Our building would not be back-to-school ready without their tireless efforts,” she said.

Her biggest goal for Burlington Schools is for it to be a safe, collaborative environment where students and teachers alike are excited to learn.

Tempany has other goals for the school as well. She said their school district has begun implementing a Standards Referenced Grading system, K-12.

“Last year I heard lots of positives about Essential Learnings, which are based on state grade-level standards, driving instruction,” she said. “This year I hope we can find ways to track and report student progress in more parent-friendly ways.”

Elementary teachers across the district will also receive LETRS reading training. “I hope this will provide the structure to support effective reading instruction at all grade levels and that this spurs PLC discussions regarding instructional strategies and practices,” she said.

The final thing Tempany reported is PreK-12 teachers across their district will participate in MTSS training this year. She said while their Tier I instruction is generally solid across grade levels, she hopes this MTSS training will help their Tier II instruction evolve a bit more.

Tempany explained they will have intervention times built into their schedule for re-teaching and enrichment opportunities. She hopes they can use the Tier II time to target individual needs more specifically, meeting students where they are at and filling gaps in their learning, or helping them to deepen, broaden, synthesize or apply their learning in novel ways.